MARK O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out the best bets from Thursday night’s European fixtures.
Montpellier v Monaco | Thursday 18.00 | BT Sport Europe
Are you often swayed by head-to-head records? I don’t tend to be. They’re nice add-ons but I don’t justify a bet based on historical meetings under differing circumstances, players and matches. That is unless you come across a strong case alongside said record.
On Thursday night Monaco make the journey across the south coast of France to Montpellier. Now Monaco aren’t exactly in full flight right now and seem to still be reeling from the losses of Anthony Martial and Layvin Kurzawa late in the transfer window as well as last season’s mainstays Geoffrey Kondogbia, Aymen Abdennour and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco.
Leonardo Jardim's side were beaten at home to Lorient on Sunday and without a win at their Stade Louis II home this season in Ligue 1. Jeremy Toulalan, Helder Costa and Lacina Traore are all still unavailable too but then there are some serious positives to believe the visitors are value at 3/4 in the Draw No Bet market with Marathon on Thursday night.
For starters, they’ve taken seven points from nine on the road thus far. They’ve actually W11-D1-L2 in their most recent 14 league fixtures on their travels and since Jardim took charge, the principality club have actually won more games away from home (25) than at the Louis II (20) in Ligue 1. And Monaco have won all bar one of their last 10 visits to bottom-six clubs too.
Now back to the head-to-head topic. On top of that fetish for winning away, the visitors have W17-D9-L0 in their last 26 Ligue 1 meetings with Montpellier. In 42 top-flight fixtures against Thursday’s hosts, Monaco have W24-D14-L0 and W10-D6-L0 in 16 Stade de la Mosson. La Paillade have failed to even score in seven of their last nine duels with Les Rouges et Blancs.
So how’s Montpellier’s form in 2015/16 looking? Awful. Rolland Courbis and his team have been heavily criticised by the club president having lost five of their six games. A stoppage-time defeat against Caen last time out will have sapped morale further and the suggestion is the MHSC head coach’s future will be determined at the end of the week following the receptions of Monaco and Lorient. It doesn’t look good and a punt on Monaco in the Draw No Bet market looks a wise option.
Betis v Deportivo | Thursday 21.00 | Sky Sports 5
Real Bet is have made an encouraging start to life back in the top-flight with a W1-D2-L1 return from fixtures against Valencia, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Villarreal. It was certainly no soft reintroduction to La Liga life for Pepe Mel’s men, who survived with 10 men for a goalless draw at the Mestalla on Sunday.
In fact, back-to-back clean sheets deserve praise and although their goals against tally reads six, five of those came when they waved the white flag at the Bernabéu in a 5-0 humping. The Los Verdiblancos have Dani Ceballos missing through suspension but they’ll still be fancied in Seville at the atmospheric Benito Villamarin.
But I’m not quite convinced. Firstly, Betis have netted two goals themselves across their first four games. But also because I think Deportivo could well surprise a few people under former star Victor Sanchez’s tutelage as the Brancoazuis remodel themselves after a busy summer.
Last season survival was only ensured on the final day of the campaign and so during the off-season, the deadwood was shipped out and replaced by experienced professionals and hungry youngsters. The results? Like their hosts, a W1-D2-L1 from kinder fixtures against Sporting Gijon, Rayo Vallecano, Valencia and Real Sociedad.
But La Coruna’s finest have looked to play football as much as possible under Victor Sanchez. Luis Alberto and Lucas Perez have contributed to all six of Depor’s goals this season and although the visitors have now managed just two league wins in 20, significantly they’ve been beaten just three times in 12 under their ex-skipper.
A more cavalier approach has also lent itself to watchable games – an aspect that was lacking in the previous reign. Those 12 fixtures have featured nine winning Both Teams To Score selections with exactly have producing three goals or more. On the road that return reads W1-D5-L1 with 6/7 seeing BTTS and 4/7 breaking the Over 2.5 Goals barrier.
The long-term trends indicate a low-scoring tie but I’m not sure I want to be opposing goals. And with Depor boasting a W6-D4-L1 record in their last 11 trips to their Andalusian hosts (keeping eight clean sheets), there’s a case to get oppose Betis too. So in this instance I’m going to have a small play on Both Teams To Score at 10/11 with William Hill – it’s Betis’ most winnable match since promotion and I’d like to think they’ll open up a bit.
Empoli v Atalanta | Thursday 19.45 | BT Sport 1
You know the story about Serie A’s Both Teams To Score value, don’t you? Good. I’ve told it enough times. Anyway, Empoli’s clash with Atalanta is the perfect chance to get back involved with William Hill chalking BTTS up at 10/11.
Empoli bagged their first win since the departure of Mauricio Sarri at Udinese at the weekend. They’ve struggled in the transition period since the unheralded Marco Giampaolo took charge and appear to have lost a fair bit of defensive stability. Still, Riccardo Saponara’s proven a real gem and although he’s a slight doubt for this encounter, I’m expecting goals.
Goals have littered Empoli’s first four games of 2015/16 with 14 being plundered overall, all four fixtures featuring winning Both Teams To Score bets and all four also producing either three or four goals.
Just one game in Serie A has finished goalless this season and Atalanta head to Tuscany eager to make amends for throwing away two points in the sixth-minute of added time against Verona last time out. With Mauricio Pinilla and German Denis both available, the visitors have a decent attacking edge.
The Bergamo-based outfit has only W1-D6-L4 in their 11 away games and trend-followers might like to know they’ve been level at the interval in nine of those outings. However, we’re interested in the goals markets and Atalanta have been surprisingly profitable for BTTS backers.
Since veteran boss Edy Reja arrived, a huge 13/17 (76%) of league games have banked in the Both Teams To Score column, including six of eight away. At 10/11 for a repeat on Thursday, I’m in.
Montpellier v Monaco – Monaco draw no bet (3/4 Marathon)
Betis v Deportivo – Both Teams To Score (10/11William Hill)
Empoli v Atalanta – Both Teams To Score (10/11 William Hill)
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